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Grandson Won't Talk To Us

(85 Posts)
minstrel Wed 15-May-13 11:19:10

We have a lovely, bright little grandson of 5 years old. Our son and his partner are now living apart and she has met and is to be married to another man next month. Our problem is that our grandson will not acknowledge us at all. He never says hello when he comes into our house or says goodbye when he leaves. I have never had a cuddle from him and have now given up trying. When myself or my husband try to talk to him he completely ignores us. As you can imagine this is very hurtful. His parents have never told him that this is wrong and instead say "its just the way he is". We both feel very rejected. Has anybody else had this experience?

kittylester Fri 17-May-13 17:29:43

All my children know that when I am looking after the grandchildren 'Ma's rules' apply. I don't disregard their rules entirely but Mas are allowed to spoil their DGC just a little bit. That's what I remember about my Nan, what my children remember about my mum and DH's father and it applies with me. It might only be a chocolate button or Ribena occasionally rather than water but I think it's fair game to let things slip a little.

It was unfair of your exDiL to have a go at you for that and really unfair to not ensure that her son is polite to all grown-ups.

Faye Fri 17-May-13 19:13:28

Minstrel your exDIL is mean and doesn't get it that she is causing problems for her son.

My GS has slowly changed and has always received hugs and kisses from his GPs, whether he appeared to want them or not. His other GM always asks him how much he loves her and he has to say this much (holds his arms out so far) or she smothers him with kisses until he does tell her. It always makes him laugh. Out of the blue he told me the other day he loved me, he tells his dad that he loves him. My SIL used to say to my daughter that he felt like his own son didn't like him.

You would be a safe and consistent refuge for your GS. When he ignores you just carry on the conversation, even tell him that you love him. He is still such a little boy and he needs lots of love and affection. flowers

springtime Fri 17-May-13 19:59:11

I experienced this in the past. I had to keep reminding myself who was the adult, me or him. Me, presumably. Don't give up or lose hope. This worked for me but I'm not saying it will work for you so ignore any or all of the strategies we used. My husband gave him lots of attention which we assumed was what it was all about. I gave remote attention and stuck to, here's a drink/biscuit - whatever - no choices or discussion offered. Lots of smiles and fond looks though, very important. At goodbye time I just waved goodbye no kiss, nothing. It is/ was very hard but I think it is a power thing, and there are now occasional thaws to which i respond with normal conversation. We have reached the point now when I have said, I won't kiss you goodbye but I'd like to shake your hand, no choice offered and this has been accepted. He is not our only grandchild so I do have more positive experiences to comfort myself with.

j08 Fri 17-May-13 20:19:00

Little boys can be knowing little so and so' s. He probably realises that this is upsetting you and therefore keeping it up. The best thing you can do is to ignore him completely. Don't try to talk to him, don't comment on his behaviour, don't try for a cuddle, and don't let him see that you care. He may well come round sharpish!

Sounds hard, but might be worth a go.

Good luck. grin

Deedaa Fri 17-May-13 22:22:05

I think JessM is right, try not to take his behaviour personally. He may well see you as one of the stable factors in his life which makes you the obvious person to take out his insecurities on. When I was 10 I had to spend several weeks living with my grandmother while my parents sold our house. There was nothing wrong with my poor grandmother, but I hated the whole thing and was probably pretty horrible to live with.

Hunt Fri 17-May-13 23:53:27

My sister asked her little GS who was staying the night if he would like a goodnight kiss. He replied,'' No thank you Granny, I really don't like kissing old peope.'' She was only 58 at the time!

Faye Sat 18-May-13 03:03:12

Hunt that made me laugh. At least he was polite about it. smile

MargaretX Sat 18-May-13 09:55:17

I have this problem with my GS now aged 9. From the beginning he hardly seemed to notice adults but adored his mother -my daughter. I scrolled the internet for articles on autism but with time came to the conclusion it was just his way. He talks to other children and notices their feelings and is kind to other children if they are in a sad mood.
He can suprise us though. When his Mum was in bed with bad migraine and his father away on business, he rang up if we could take the dog for a walk at night. He chatted all the time. Where the lead was, that the dog had its harness on ( it is big dog). There was building going on in the area and he told us where we could walk with him. When he was satisfied that we knew what to do he said goodnight and cheerfully went to bed.

Now we accept him as just being quiet. He will talk about real life, when he considers speech necessary. He reads a lot and WHEN he speaks he uses long sentences and has a wide vocabulary.
As to minstrel GS saying 'its you again' it can hurt but I suspect that is what most grandchidren think a lot of the time.
Some little boys just don't like chatting. minstrel if you don't like the silence then put the TV on. You are allowed to do that in your own home.

j08 Sat 18-May-13 10:18:48

It's so good reading these posts, to know that my grandson was in fact just like all the others. I wish I could have read this ten years ago. I actually used to cry in the car on the way home from visits. blush

I'm glad to say that, now he is eleven, he is usually very loving. (Although "the game" still shows itself sometimes!)

whenim64 Sat 18-May-13 11:04:38

Jingle smile

MargaretX Sat 18-May-13 16:02:57

I agree jingle I worried far too much. I heard on Any Questions this afternoon a psychotherapist saying that children properly attached to their parents, who feel loved and secure don't want to sit on the knees of other people and I suppose some can't be bothered to chat either.
I never expect my GCs to cuddle up because I myself hated having to kiss old relatives when I was a child.

Tegan Sat 18-May-13 18:31:17

I was going to say last night [and then, for some reason didn't post what I'd written] that I never hug or kiss my grandson. He stopped letting me cuddle him when he was about 3 but that was because I used to read to him in the afternoon and I'd put my arms round him and he'd nod off for his afternoon nap. He realised that he didn't want to nod off, the cuddles stopped and they never restarted. And I've never kissed the boys because I didn't like old people kissing me when I was young [apart from a dear Aunt who I always kissed on the cheek] and I didn't want them to be in a position where I was trying to kiss them and they didn't like it. But I'm not very tactile anyway [strangely enough am very huggy kissy with friends but not with family]. And I do tell them I love them very much all the time. And I insist on holding their hand if we're anywhere dangerous [which, for me is just about everywhere because they're so precious].

Deedaa Sat 18-May-13 20:51:47

My six year old grandson has started to come and curl up on my lap since his brother was born - something he hadn't done for years. No doubt it will wear off soon but it's rather nice! If I pick him up from school he sometimes greets me with the most awful expression (If you're a Calvin & Hobbs fan it's Calvin's dinosaur face) Heaven knows what the teachers must think I'm going to do to him, but he thinks it's hilarious smile

minstrel Mon 20-May-13 12:11:11

Its so encouraging to read all your comments. They have all made me feel so much better about things. I thought I would get lots of hugs and kisses with my grandson but I now realise that they don't all want that! I'm not going to take the not talking to me thing too seriously anymore either. I shall continue to talk to him but if he doesn't want to talk to me then thats ok. Thanks so much everyone flowers

jeanie99 Mon 20-May-13 22:47:24

I would try and find something for him to play with that would include you grandpa and dad. There are many board games around which he may be interested in.
I remember my son loved a dinasaur game and it helped him count as well.

You could all start by bringing in the box and setting things up and allow him to perhaps help, dad could be a go between.

I think it's finding something that he is interested in and he may then perhaps forget about anything that me may have heard from his mother.

If and when he moves away send him postcards regularly something nice and bright to keep in contact. He will not answer to start with but over the months he'll always know that someone loves and cares for him even if he does not see you.

I would hope that his mother would show him the cards.

minstrel Tue 21-May-13 09:20:55

Great idea about the postcards jeanie99. His mum took him to look at a new school yesterday so I presume they will be moving during the summer holidays in time for September term. They will be quite far away so we won't be seeing him very often. As you say, hopefully his mum will show the postcards to him.

Btw does anyone know whether his mum can take our grandson away from his dad (about 3 hours drive) therefore making it difficult to have regular contact? I don't know whether dad's have any legal rights to stop this happening.

HappyNanna Tue 21-May-13 09:30:15

In your OP you said 'my son and his partner' so I'm assuming they weren't married. In which case I've got a feeling that his Mum can do what she likes. Maybe your son should contact a family law solicitor.

annodomini Tue 21-May-13 10:07:22

minstrel, I noticed that in one of your posts you mention ' when we get home I will read to him or sometimes we make cakes, he will engage with me then.' I think this could be the most significant thing you have said about him. The answer to your relationship could lie in the activities you can do together. One of my GSs can be stroppy and rude, but when I do gardening with him he engages completely. Of course, gardening might not captivate your GS but he evidently likes baking. Why not start a folder of recipes that he likes and which he can learn to read eventually. He might really enjoy the weighing and measuring involved in making, say, gingerbread men. He might feel really proud presenting his dad with the fruits of his labours. Good luck. smile

nannytotwo Tue 21-May-13 13:32:44

We had a child in playschool that didn't speak to the adults within the setting but was fine with the children,he didn't speak to his daddy or grandparents they was told he had Selective mutism information
Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder where a child cannot speak in almost all social situations despite being able to.
What causes selective mutism?
Doctors are not always sure what causes some children to develop selective mutism although it is thought to occur as the result of anxiety, in particular specific phobias. Others develop the condition as the result of some sort of trauma.

Selective mutism usually begins in children under five years of age, though it may only become noticeable when a child begins school.

Most children with selective mutism are believed to have an inherited predisposition to anxiety. Some may have sensory integration dysfunction (trouble processing some sensory information) which causes anxiety making them "shut down" and unable to speak.

Many children may have some auditory processing difficulties and many have speech or language disorders that add stress to situations in which they are expected to speak.

One study into the condition found that it was more likely to occur in children who have suffered abuse, neglect, or trauma.

A common misconception is that a selectively mute child is defiant or stubborn.

What are the signs and symptoms of selective mutism?
Children with selective mutism are unable to speak in specific social settings. These children are often able to verbalise appropriately for their age in settings in which they are comfortable, such as in the family home, but lose the ability to do so in other settings. They may speak easily with parents and close friends but “clam up” at school or nursery.

Very often the child finds their inability to communicate highly frustrating and embarrassing. This can serve as a vicious circle only serving to make the problem worse.

How is selective mutism normally diagnosed?
Selective mutism needs to be formally diagnosed by a qualified child mental health professional.

If you have concerns that your child is displaying signs of the condition, speak to your GP who can refer you.

Selective mutism must be diagnosed according to specific guidelines.

These include observations that:

the child does not speak in specific settings

the child can speak normally in alternate settings

their inability to speak interferes with their ability to function in the setting

the child’s inability to speak has lasted for at least six months

the child’s inability to speak is not related to another behavioural, mental or communication disorder
How is selective mutism normally treated?
Selective mutism should be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. Treatment focuses on lowering the anxiety that the child has for speaking in a particular setting. Treatment does not focus on the speaking itself.

The most common forms of treatment for this condition are behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and play therapy.

Behavioural therapy is an approach to psychotherapy designed to reinforce desired and eliminate undesired behaviours. It does not examine a child’s past, or concern itself much with their thoughts. Instead it concentrates on eradicating the difficulty in a practical way.

This is usually done in a step-by-step approach giving a person techniques and exercises which help them conquer their fears.

Cognitive behavioural therapy works by helping a person talk about how they think about themselves, the world and other people and how their perception of these things affects thoughts and feelings.

Play therapy is generally used with children aged three to 11. It provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process. As children’s experiences and knowledge are often communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle for them to know and accept themselves and others.

Another technique used to treat selective mutism is called stimulus fading. In this technique the patient is brought into a controlled environment with someone with whom they are at ease and can communicate. Gradually another person is introduced into the situation involving a number of small steps.

Desensitisation is another approach. This works by encouraging the child to communicate via indirect means – such as email, instant messaging (either text, audio, and/or video), online chat or voice or video recordings. The child can continue to build up relationships this way until they feel ready to try more direct communication.

Another technique is called shaping. Here a child is encouraged to interact nonverbally before being slowly coaxed into trying sounds – clicks and hums, then whispering and gradually trying a word or two.

Some doctors use medication as a way to treat selective mutism. This may include trying some antidepressants which are used to decrease anxiety levels to speed the process of therapy. However medication is more often used for older children and teenagers whose anxiety has led to depression and other problems.

Family therapy can also be helpful. Relatives and friends of children diagnosed with selective mutism can have a major impact on the success of treatment for this disorder. A child needs love, support and patience as well as verbal and emotional encouragement.

At no time should a child suffering from this condition be expected or prompted to talk. Instead attention should be focused on making the child feel comfortable and confident in social settings.

What next?
This condition can be debilitating - preventing children from interacting normally and from learning normally at school. If left untreated it tends to get worse.

However it is not impossible for a child with selective mutism to ‘unlearn’ their fears, and begin to speak again.
More information

You can learn more about our clinical specialties by visiting CAMHS/DPM.

Last reviewed at Great Ormond Street Hospital on: 8 August 2011

Gorki Tue 21-May-13 14:05:51

I used to teach a little girl with selective started when she began school and in her case was cultural in the sense that she was from Bangladesh and was copying her mother who in social situations because of language problems and culture would sit in a corner and not say a word. Could it be that your grandson is copying his mother if she doesn't speak to you but lets his guard down when he is doing an activity with you that he enjoys?

jeanie99 Wed 22-May-13 09:13:59

If you want to advice your son I would suggest he get legal advice, family arrangements I suspect can be complicated when the couple are not married.
I would always advice him to try and have as friendly a relationship with his X as he can for the sake of his son.
Life can be difficult at times and we sometimes have to bite our tongue to get the things we want.

maxgran Wed 22-May-13 15:21:14

Does your grandson see other people in your family hug or cuddle each other?
Is it something you DO as a family?
If not then I would think he would not be comfortable with it.

I do think his Dad should have a word with him about him ignoring you. Personally, when my grandson ignores me I don't let him get away with it. I won't accept rudeness or being ignored by anyone - let alone a 5 year old!.
Sometimes, my grandson says 'Not you again!' when I turn up and I just reply 'Yes it is!'

However, with your grandson - he may be feeling vulnerable if his parents have split up and he may have made a decision to keep a 'distance' in case you leave him too? It sounds silly, but in some ways people do this as a form of self protection, emotionally.

toopie52 Tue 07-Jul-15 08:31:51

I have a soon to be 5 yr old gs that just in the last month refuses to talk to me. He has been diagnosed w ADHD...personally I feel for the little guy however the home life is dysfunctional & they have not disciplined him for pretty much all his bad behavior.

Iam64 Tue 07-Jul-15 13:42:12

toopie52 - this is an old thread, that was dormant.

Your OP is about a recent diagnosis of ADHD and the way in which your grandsons parents discipline/don't discipline him. It may be worth starting a new thread rather than using this one smile

Nanabelle Tue 07-Jul-15 15:51:40

oh - I have just read all through this thread before I noticed the dates! it would be nice to hear from minstrel how things are going now.
This thread also is a great example of how supportive and friendly Gransnet can be.